DETROIT (WWJ) – A decision has been made to pursue a Wayne County jail project proposed by billionaire Detroit developer Dan Gilbert.

As it stands, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans’ office says they will take steps to move ahead with an offer from Gilbert’s Rock Ventures to build a new criminal justice center on E. Forest Ave. near I-75.

In a statement, Evans said the plan has “more upside” than the offer from Walsh Construction to finish the jail where it sits, partially finished and long-delayed, on prime downtown real estate on Gratiot Ave. near I-375.

But, Evans stressed, this is not a done deal.

Evans said there are “many issues” that need to be resolved before he could recommend the Rock Ventures plan to the county commission and other officials.

The county said Evans’ team will work with Rock representatives to negotiate terms of a deal to create a new criminal justice center at the alternative site.

“If this thing does come together I think it would be great for Wayne County to have several new buildings: a juvenile detention facility, a courthouse, a jail, news facilities for the sheriff, new facilities for the prosecutor — makes some sense,” Evans told WWJ Newsradio 950 on Monday. “And we’re looking forward to trying to get that done.”

As the deal was initially presented, the county would give Rock Ventures $300 million — the estimated cost to complete the jail at current construction site. The developer would bulldoze the failed jail, and build a $1 billion commercial development, which would potentially include a Major League Soccer stadium. [More details].

If negotiations with Rock cannot result in a contract “in the best interest of county residents and taxpayers,” then Evans has 120 days from June 28, the date Walsh submitted its proposal, to commence negotiations to complete the jail at the Gratiot site.

The unfinished 2,000-bed jail is an eyesore  across from the county courthouse in Detroit. Construction stopped in 2013 because the project was wildly over budget, with cost overruns totaling more than $90 million.

Stay with WWJ and for the very latest. 


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